I felt a sense of happiness and fun before ever leaving home to come to the mountains today. After having been trapped indoors all week in training, I'm ready to spend some time outdoors.
As always, being here in the mountains, is a balm to my soul. Today, though, feels a little different. With the good mood that I brought, I feel adventurous. A ways into the trail, I spot the fallen tree across the creek again. As soon as my eyes land on it, I know. After resisting so many times, I know what will happen. With a smile and a childlike thrill, I jump onto what has become my bridge across the creek.
With arms outstretched, I head across. Finally, doing what I was tempted to do all winter. Step after careful step, I make it to the other side! Yay! Now, to make it back.. Hopping on again, braver this time, I walk back across. I jump off with the happiness of doing what I had wanted for so long :-)
I begin to feel the rain sprinkling lightly. With the darkening skies, the sound of the wind overhead becomes foreboding. Exactly what I came for. I love all moods of the Smokies.
I leave the main trail for an unnamed trail. It is narrow and shaded. The feeling of excitement builds. The smile hasn't left my face since starting out. I come across a massive tree that has fallen and takes up the trail for a good ways. I must leave the trail and go downhill to get around. At the bottom, I skirt a bog. I make my way back up the hill to the trail.
At this point, the wind is roaring like a freight train. I feel such anticipation as the trail closes in around me, trees crowding close. My ears are tuned to the forest. Especially after a recent conversation with a friend about wild boar in the Smokies. This has undoubtedly become the adventure that I set out for.
Soon after the trail breaks free into a clearing with short trees that curve and coil like snakes. I feel I've entered a fantastic world where animals and rocks should talk. I move on in this world that I have found. The smile grows wider.
Yet again, I hear the cracking from above. My steps slow as I peer upward. So many trees sway in the wind.
I've come so far into this wonderland without being prepared, that I know I should turn around. I'm not ready to resist the magnetic hold it has on me yet. I come to a spot where the trail splits. To the right it is so faint, you could lose your way. To the left, you must traverse fallen limbs to make it across. I choose the left.
Stopping short..What was that noise!? A squeal. Definitely an animal, I'm just not sure what kind. Added to this, I hear the creaking of a tree immediately behind and the groaning of one ahead. Once again, I hear the sounds of the animal. It could be the young. Knowing it wouldn't be wise to near a mother and babies of any sort, I take the fainter trail.
Too soon, this trail ends at another creek. I backtrack. I stop at the first trail again, contemplating going on. Hearing the sound again, combined with the massive tree swaying nearby, convinces me that I've pushed my luck. I've been here much longer than anticipated and gone much further than I planned.
I stop to rest on a small fallen tree, before I make my way back out. Around the massive tree, down the hill, near the bog, I walk.
I soon reach the first trail. The wind is still strong. Not far ahead, I hear a massive crash. Out here, in this wind, there is only one thing it could be. The wind has won it's fight with the forest and a tree has fallen. I do not know what to expect when I round the curve. Almost hoping for another massive fallen tree, I see nothing. I'll never know what tree made the sound.
Brilliant sunlight breaks free of the clouds, blue skies peep through and the winds lessen. As if, the mountains are saying to me that they gave me the excitement I wanted. Now that I'm leaving, they can calm.
Today, as every other day that I come, the Smokies have blessed me with what I came for...a little adventure.